Prior to departure, flight attendants always give the same instructions.
They show passengers how to fasten their seatbelts. They point out the emergency exits. And then they explain what happens if there’s a drop in oxygen.
The masks will come down.
And then what?
You put your mask on first.
Only once yours is fixed on properly should you help your neighbors.
Even if you’re a parent. Even if it’s the love of your life next to you. You put your mask on first.
Because otherwise you’ll run out of air too. And you’ll both be screwed.
Yet in life, we often take a different approach. We put others first. We say yes to things we don’t want to do to avoid disappointing a friend. We go to a particular school or a job we hate to make our parents proud. We spend money on useless things to impress people we don’t like.
We forget to put our own mask on first.
When we met Will Smith for the first time years ago, that was the first thing he brought up.
We asked him how he maintains such endless positive energy. He was very clear about his own selfishness.
You have to take care of yourself first. Every single day. Otherwise you won’t have the energy to be there for others.
Spreading joy can only come from an initial place of joy. Selflessness can only come from an initial place of selfishness.
It sounds counterintuitive. It sounds mean. But ironically, being selfish is the kindest thing you can do.
Like the mask on the airplane, focus on putting yours on first. Even if everyone around you is begging for help.
Because without your oxygen. Without your energy. You’ll quickly burn out. And you won’t be able to be there for others.
So put your mask on. Say no to that pointless meeting so you can go for a jog. Change your college major so you can study something you actually enjoy. Take that much needed break to avoid burning out. Find what’ll give you energy and do it.
And once you do, once your mask is on, once you’ve figured out what makes you happy...Well, you’ll want to spread that joy to everyone around you.
You’ll want to turn around and help everyone with their masks.